Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It was the 3rd of June - another sleepy dusty Delta day.

I was out chopping cotton and my brother was baling hay.

Happy Ode to Billie Joe Day! The lyrics above come from the #1 song by Bobbi Gentry "Ode to Billie Joe". I have always liked the song and it has a small cult following. It is a song about a young man who commits suicide by flinging himself aff the Tallahatchie bridge. The song earned a Grammy. A movie was even made to honor Billie Joe McAllister.

Let's talk a little ( for my 2 to 3 friends that actually read this). Let's start with Roberta Lee Streeter aka Bobbie Gentry. Born dirt poor and raised in poverty in the MS Delta. She is beautiful and talented. One of the 1st country female stars to write her own music. She also wrote the song "Fancy" that was made popular in 1991 by Reba McEntire. This is one of the few songs that I know of that mentions a roach - the bug.

The song - told in story fashion around the table passing around the black eyed peas. It is a catchy tune and has been recorded by other talented people - Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra sung it as a duet, the Ventures did a instrumental out of it, and Diana Ross and the Supremes placed it on their "Reflections" LP. I personally have heard it at a party sung by an old black soul singer. He did a durn good job of it too.

The movie - perhaps the most controversial to me. This movie was directed by Jethro Bodine ( no crap - look it up - it was Max Baer, jr.). I can't picture anyone taking direction form him - but they obviously did. The movie was shot on location in the MS Delta. I have seen the bridge where the filming was made. A local museum has a few artifiacts from the movie also. Robby Benson plays the ill-fated Billie Joe. But the most shocking person in the whole story is.......

Roscoe P. Coltrane - the sheriff of Hazzard County. No, I have not gotten my redneck stories confused. James Best (the actor who portrayed RPC) played Dewey Barksdale. he ends up being the reason that Billie Joe is so disturbed that he has to do himself in. I can't tell you what that is because I said this would be a PG blog, but lets just say I was so astrounded that the minute it was revealed in the movie I picked up the phone and called my buddy/ college roommate "SB". We were both flabbergasted. Just go watch the movie.

The bridge. there are lots of Tallahatchie bridges. They are everywhere. I think about Billie Joe when I cross them.

Is the story true? Probably not - but it does make you wonder.

Today Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge..................

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